What you Need to Know to Start a Clothing Line
Posted on 10 December 2013
New Lyfe Clothing Co. officially incorporated on May 2nd 2013. We have been in business a little over 7 months. It has flown by, and has been such a ride. Things have really taken off for us, and we have learned so much.
When we started New Lyfe, we didn't really expect much. Our goal was to sell 1 shirt a week. It was something we were just going to do on the side for fun. Never did we think it would explode the way it has. People bought in to our message, and it has been a bit overwhelming to keep up.
We get countless messages from people asking for our advice and ideas to start their own clothing lines. We help anyone we can. If our motto is to chase your dreams, then what kind of culture would we be if we didn't help other people do this? For those that are looking to start their own line, here are a few important things we have learned.
CANT BE AFRAID TO MESS UP
When we started, we knew nothing about the clothing industry. We were lucky because I knew about websites, and Josh knew about clothes, so we had a head start. However, when it comes to understanding the nuts and bolts of the industry, we had no clue where to start... so we just started.
The first few months we kept a win and loss column. We would put a mark in the win column when we did something right, and a mark in the loss column when we fucked something up. At one point I think we had 3 wins and 28 losses. We never got bent out of shape when we messed up. Most people quit when they mess up. This is the most important thing when starting any project. You are going to mess up... A LOT! Expect it, and just keep on truckin.
LEARN EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING
Just off the top of my head, here are the things you will need to learn about if you want to succeed in a clothing line.
- Wholesale Purchasing
- Printing Companies
- Latest Trends
- Styles and Fits in Compared to Body Types
- Who Will Buy Your Clothes?
- Building Websites
- Managing Inventory
- Banking - Merchant Accounts - Paypal
- Solving Problems - They are going to happen. People will want to return stuff or tell you they never got their order (even the the tracking clearly says it got there) You just have to do your best.
- Finding Good Designers
That's just the start. So with all this there are two options. You can pay someone to do these jobs for you, or... if you are like us and don't have any money, you need to learn to do it yourself. You must learn how to do as much as you can.
BE PERSONAL - LEARN ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS
I know this sounds like a goofy and cliche marketing slogan, and it is. I never understood what it meant until we decided to dive in a little deeper with this. In a technical sense, its about understanding your audience. But really... its more than that.
Now a days, people don't have relationships with businesses anymore. We shop at Walmart, we live in gated communities, we hardly even know our neighbors. So when a company goes out of their way to learn about their fan base, and actually INTERACT with them. It leaves a big impression.
Do things to surprise people. Send them free shit, share their projects on social media. Ask them questions, and most importantly LISTEN TO THEM! You may think you know what people want, or you could just ask them. It is so important and it is something that no one does. Selling clothes is about more than revenue and return on investment. You have to understand that what people wear, is an extension of themselves, of who they are, and what they love. So find out who they are, and be a part of their lives.
STAND FOR SOMETHING
Every clothing company has a culture. When you wear curtain clothes, you are telling the world who you are and what you believe in. What type of person do you think would wear Abercrombie? What would someone who wears Vans be into? What would a person who loves graffiti wear? You have to think about all of these things, because like I said, what we wear is an extension of who we are.
When you stand for something, you are creating an identity. You are giving people a reason to get behind you. Don't be afraid to cause some controversy. There is nothing wrong with believing in something and there is everything wrong with blending in because you are scared of what people think. If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.
PAY ATTENTION TO DETAIL
This is really important. You have to understand that it is not going to all happen at once. As much as we would like to all buy a bunch of shirts and blow up overnight, it just doesn't work like that. All of the little things really matter because there is so much to think about. No detail is too small, and when you slack off on things, it really makes a difference.
For instance, we wanted to sell hoodies, but we rushed our first hoodie design. We got it back and we hated it and we ended up having to redo the design again. We wasted money and more importantly time. If we would have just really looked at the design, and did it right the first time, it would have been so much easier.
Also be detailed in how you interact. Little things matter a lot. The packaging, the quality of the shirts, the effeciency in how you ship and react to people that have problems. Don't be afraid to call people, and do everything you can to make sure they are happy.
Look... we are not perfect. We have made countless mistakes along our journey. Our experience only makes us better at what we do.
I hope someone got some good advice. The little we have to offer, we give to you. If you ever have any questions or want to reach out to us for anything at all, email us at info@newlyfeclothing.
Beeteam mother fuckers!